2019 has been a big year for the #StreamTeam. Many of our 2019 predictions have come to pass, we’ve released lots of new and exciting functionality into Stream, with new partnerships & integrations in the Stream ecosystem, plenty of happy new users onboard, and 30+ new videos on the #StreamTeam YouTube channel.
So, what are the #StreamTeam excited about for 2020? Find out:
The focus is on climate, and on reducing emissions
Dave Pickburn, Founder & CEO
This year with Stream we’ve more than doubled the number of businesses we’re dealing with and, I think more interestingly, we’ve really built the product alongside some of our customers.
Particularly some of the work around scanning with Mawdsley’s Logistics. All the individual changes, perhaps don’t seem like much, but the sum of that, in terms of the end-to-end scanning and traceability that you’ve got, has been a major enhancement with Stream. Scanning was there before, but this has really taken it to another level.
For our customers, and for our customers’ customers, scanning can really improve their day-to-day operations. The reliability of deliveries is improving and the likelihood of mistakes is reduced. They can be sure that the right things are on the right vehicles, at the right time, and they’re able to evidence that. Where that’s not the case, the system is flagging it up before things go wrong, so its discovered before the point of delivery.
There is so much exciting stuff coming through, lots of things around planning. We introduced auto-plan a while ago, we brought in fixed routes, milk runs if you like, which is going to be taken up a level within 2020. Its already great, but it’s going to get better and better.
Probably the thing that I’m most excited about coming in, is that we’re extending extracts. Stream users will be able to extract summarised run and stop information and use that for reporting. They’ll be able to get KPIs and to get insights into their operations, and by doing that, and by monitoring it, they’ll be able to operate more and more efficiently, more effectively, more reliably, and with better service.
A year ago, we made some predictions around how customer service is key. I still think that’s the case, and we’re still getting that feedback from our customers: delivering a fantastic service to everybody is key.
The other thing we were talking about a year ago is Clean Air Zones. They’ve not quite come to pass yet in the UK. We are still doing work around that though, around monitoring and measuring the amount of CO2 being used. Even if Clean Air Zones themselves have been delayed, the environment, and the climate emergency, is still a big topic, and its something that’s important to us. The focus is on climate and reducing emissions, and running alongside that is how important clean air is for everybody’s health.
We are really focused on how we can work to reduce emissions in the sector, and part of that is just by making logistics operations as efficient as possible. Encouraging the use of efficient vehicles, and measuring that, and being able to understand the results of that, along with efficient routes, so reducing the number of vehicles required to do the same amount of work. Once you can manage and monitor that, you can then improve further over time.
Giving users more freedom to manipulate their own data
Shahid Latif, Product Manager
Looking back at the year gone by, one of the features that I feel will benefit a number of customers, has been the Master runs functionality, which allows you to create and schedule regular routes in advance. Further to this you can search for additional deliveries located around the route using Autofill and add those on as and when they come in. The whole process of scheduling regular runs in advance has been simplified and streamlined.
Going forward, I think there are two big areas of change in the Stream pipeline for 2020:
One is around connectivity, and generally, the API is an exciting area. The more integrations we have between our system and others – particularly systems that serve specialist parts of the supply chain – is something that we’re expanding into.
The concept of KPI reporting is something that we’re taking further, building reports and in addition a new KPI module providing a database for customers and allowing them to generate custom views and dashboards. Giving customers the freedom to manipulate key data as they see fit.
Generally in the logistics industry, there is a drive for more technological advancements. I think areas such as blockchain will come to the fore with more solutions built on the platform, to allow a secure collaboration. It’s a slightly different take on the way systems have been developed in the past, but I think that will definitely become more prominent.
And the concept of the Internet of Things is an exciting area and something where I’d hope that Stream could expand into as well. Being able to connect to more everyday and accessible devices opens up new avenues of communication and service to consumers and beyond.
Connecting ‘best of breed’ systems from different providers using APIs
Pete Samways, Technical Architect
From my perspective, the biggest and most exciting things to change in Stream since the start of 2019 has been the release of the public API. We’ve been developing it for just over a year now, and that’s gained some real traction amongst customers. It’s given us the opportunity to integrate with lots of other systems and it’s made easier for us to onboard customers because it gives us another option about how we get their data into the system. For Stream users, if they’re using a particular inventory management system or back-office system or accounting system, we can hook that into Stream much more easily with the API in place than we could previously.
Currently, the API covers orders, items and statuses. Looking forward into 2020, we’re going to expand that, to allow customers to import their own runs into Stream. I would expect we’d probably also go further with other entities, like drivers and vehicles, which will give us more options in terms of how we can integrate with other systems.
With our legacy customers, as well as our Stream customers, we’re seeing a move away from having one big legacy system to manage all their operations into using ‘best of breed’ systems from different providers and basically stitching them together. So lots more APIs communicating between systems.
Even more investment in the product (based on user feedback)
Shanice McKenna, Transportation Solutions Advisor
I started with Stream earlier this year, in January, and overall it’s a really exciting company to be part of. Stream is constantly investing in the product, we’re always listening to customer feedback, and updating or expanding on the product, making changes based on what customers have to say about it.
Something really exciting this year is that Stream has gained some valuable customers in places like the US, New Zealand, Denmark and we’re looking to continue to grow and build successful relationships internationally, making some great partnerships in the likes of the Netherlands.
For Stream users, that internationalisation means that any particular features that are needed for transport & logistics operation outside of the UK, those are already on board, so our existing customer base can benefit from that as well, we’re ready to help UK customers scale internationally.
I speak with customers daily and I find that something they are struggling with is keeping up the demand. The industry for deliveries is growing, the demand is ever-growing, customers want their delivery yesterday. I believe that Stream, because it helps customers manage their orders and deliveries efficiently, can be a way for companies to meet increasing demand without adding more resource.
Here’s to 2020!
More traceability of products
Alex Mowforth, Support and Customer Implementations Team Lead
It’s been a great year for the Stream Team, with really big growth in the customer base and the type of customers we’re dealing with.
One of the great things we’ve been doing is bringing in more traceability of products through the distribution phase, especially making use of scanning. For those working in sectors like pharmaceuticals or controlled drugs, to have that traceability of who has ownership of those items at all times, and where they are in the delivery network, is very important.
We’ve also started working with more international customers and part of that is expanding to be able to work over different time zones with different customers, and looking at the scalability of the product going forward. We’re working with bigger customers, on bigger installations, with lots of multi-depot organisations, so we’re adding to the levels of support we provide, while still keeping that friendly, personal point of contact.
Exporting more data from Stream, and use it to your advantage
Jordan Porter, Development and Support
Through 2019, a lot of the more customer-facing parts of Stream have been expanded. The ability for users to edit business partners, our new users and drivers screen, more ability for the end-users to actually make changes in their own environment. This makes it faster and easier for users to make changes to their own system, without having to call on our support team, so those changes can be turned around quicker.
In the development pipeline, we’ve got more exports coming, so users can export lots of data about things like:
- Whether runs are on time
- Whether deliveries were made successfully
- Whether orders were completed
- How many miles the driver has done
- Many hours the driver has been out for
- The CO2 emissions
The ability to export more data from Stream and then process into Google data studio extracts gives users more visibility. They can see what’s going on, and they can analyse that data and actually use it to their advantage in decision-making.
Digital disruption will shape the next year (and beyond)
Paul Rufus, Marketing Manager
It’s been an incredibly exciting 12-months on so many fronts.
We’ve welcomed lots of new subscribers to the Stream community, not only from the UK and Ireland but across the US, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Denmark to name but a few.
Working with new and existing subscribers (and from our own product roadmap), we’ve also added lots of new features and functionality to the platform itself, which has benefited everyone.
In some respects, I’m most excited by the API now available for subscribers to connect their business systems with Stream. We’ve worked with subscribers (and those testing Stream) to integrate Stream with systems as diverse as Sage 200, SAP Business One and Sage Business Cloud Accounting, plus a host of in-house, bespoke systems.
This has meant building relationships with not only the subscriber but often their partners looking after those systems. It really does make the whole ecosystem exciting and dynamic.
I’m led to believe that my predictions for 2019 have pretty much all come true, so what about 2020?
Quite rightly, the environment will be at the front of our minds in the next 12-months. On a political front, initiatives such as ULEZs, CAZs, London’s Low Emissions Zone and emission reduction targets will impact businesses operating in the logistics sector, forcing them to re-evaluate and examine their operations.
Whether it is looking at alternative power trains for vehicles such as electric or hydrogen; or transporting goods and products to new hubs outside major cities and then completing final mile deliveries (and collections) using lighter vehicles; businesses are having to look at alternative strategies.
We’re also looking at ways of reporting on CO2 emissions in conjunction with our subscribers and carbon offsetting those emissions as much as possible.
Digital disruption will also shape the next year (and beyond). Operating in the delivery, logistics and transportation market, we’re not immune to digital disruption. In fact, we embrace it – and we’re proactively engaged in it.
We proudly consider ourselves as a challenger brand in the market and are one of the new, digital entrants who are changing traditional relationships in the sector.
These entrants are bringing big data; mobile-first; cloud; collaboration; digital partnerships; and connected platforms which give customers with the seamless experiences we all enjoy (and increasingly demand) as consumers.
Ease of access; usership versus ownership; transparency; and fast, real-time integrated services are commonplace in so many areas of our lives.
Think Blockbuster and Netflix.
Black cabs and Uber.
High street stores and Amazon.
For businesses embracing digital disruption, there are significant benefits to be had. New technologies have provided those businesses with the opportunity to not only grow their core business but identify and exploit new business opportunities.
Real-time data via mobile devices and telematics units; an evolving open API to enable more data to be shared and extracted with Stream so that multiple platforms in different business areas can communicate; and making it easier for businesses to collaborate with contractors, suppliers and other stakeholders are just three areas we’re currently looking into.
There are other innovations in other sectors, which at first glance may not appear to impact our sector, but they do influence and change the perception of customers and the service they expect, for example:
- Live chat and AI Bots across the retail and healthcare sector meaning consumers/patients interact digitally rather than human interaction
- E-commerce and an always-on culture being translated into a business-to-business environment
- Consumers accessing and purchasing products and services digitally, i.e. mobile-only restaurants, instead of having to travel to a physical outlet
- Augmented Reality enabling consumers to try before they buy for all kinds of goods and services
- Wearable mobile devices
- In-store navigation for a more immersive experience.
All these innovations eventually (and inevitably) enter other market sectors, including ours and will have an impact.